Tag Archives: living abroad

Thankful

That’s my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Daughter by Loudon Wainwright III

Being overseas for any American holiday always makes me a little homesick. This is especially true during Thanksgiving. Despite everything that went wrong with our Thanksgiving dinner last year in London, I laugh whenever I think of the hilarious day spent cooking with two old friends in a foreign country.

This year I do not have access to a big oven, so no cooking. Instead I will be going to a restaurant, Texas Embassy, for Thanksgiving dinner…on Friday night. I know, it’s a little off, but the way I look at it, people eat leftovers all weekend so as long as I have some turkey this weekend it counts. More on that later…

I am thankful for a lot of things this year: great family (the whole extended bunch), amazing friends (old and new), and the ability to see out of both eyes are all high up on the list.

But at the very top of the list are my parents.

Mom, Dad, and I at my cousin's wedding (Aug. 2010)

When I told them I wanted to study music business, they said ok.

When I told them I wanted to move to Nashville, they said alright (after visiting Belmont and several long discussions).

When I said, “I think I want to take cooking lessons in Italy for a month, and then move to London,” they both agreed it was a good idea.

When I was struggling with what to do next, they suggested school (okay, they brought up law school, we compromised on a masters in music business).

They flew out for showcases at Belmont, drove from San Diego when I needed to have my tonsils removed so they could bring our dog, and helped me pack up my Nashville life before driving all my stuff back to San Diego.

Any other parents would have probably traded in this high maintenance girl for another model years ago, but not my parents.

Piazza Navona - Rome, Italy (Nov. 2009)

As kids, we think our parents are super heros who can save the world. When we become teenagers, this bubble bursts and our biggest fear is turning into our parents. Once we hit our twenties, we realize that despite our best efforts, we are turning into them anyway. People always tell me I look like my mom. But those who know the three of us would also tell you that my personality is very much like my dad’s. He has been teaching me how to be street smart and to think logically ever since he said, “You want a Happy Meal? Here’s $5, go order it.”

I was 4 years old at the time.

Mediterranean Cruise (Nov. 2009)

I learn lessons from him constantly, and it is the most recent one I would like to share.

It was not long after my surgery in August that the medical bills started coming in. Since I have not been working and had been living overseas, I did not have insurance in America (and still don’t). Vanderbilt gives patients without insurance coverage a 50% reduction, however half of a $30,000 surgery is still a large amount of money (I don’t know the exact cost of the surgery because some of the bills came after I left for London, but I know with the discount it was still over $15,000). On top of all this, we needed to pay for my tuition and housing in London by the beginning of October. I felt sick about the whole situation, especially knowing how much I was costing them in the month of September alone. My dad told me not to worry about it, and that he would figure it out. And that is exactly what he did.

Stating his case, he wrote a letter to the hospital (on my behalf) telling them my situation (unemployed student with no insurance) and asking for help with the enormous bill. We waited for weeks for a response, hoping for any good news. Finally, a few weeks ago, my dad received a letter from Vanderbilt. After reviewing my case, they decided to cover 100% of my hospital bills.

100%!

I could not believe it. None of us could. Just like that, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I know my parents felt the same way. My dad, in his masterful way, took care of it. I think even he surprised himself with this outcome. Even at 26, I feel like a young grasshopper when my dad does everything in his power to make something happen.

Much to learn you still have – Yoda

I hope everyone had an incredible Thanksgiving!

Ciao,
Sheila

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I lived there in 2010

“It’s been five years since I lived in Fargo, and I was only a citizen of that community for four years. Somehow, it still feels like I lived there for two decades.” – Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself To Live

With my move to Italy just 6 days away, I’ve been thinking a lot about something…

What criteria must be met for a person to say “I’ve lived there”?

It is just a certain period of time that must pass?

Living in an actual residence as opposed to a hotel or hostel?

Knowing your local shops and making a point to purchase goods from them?

Having a particular place you and your friends always hang out?

If it’s an international country, does it matter what your visa status is? (ie. student, visitor, work permit, resident)

Or is it just a feeling or connection you have with that particular place?

At this point, I can say without a doubt that I have lived in London. I’ve been living in a house for 7 months, made new friends, have my favorite places to eat, shop at my local stores and charity shops, and even got a library card for my local library (I can’t remember the last time I had a library card. I think I was 13).

But after 6 weeks in Italy, will I be able to say I’ve officially lived there? What if you consider the 4 weeks I spent there last October? Do those 10 weeks combined count as having lived in a country?

Just something I’ve been pondering between walking all over London, reading on the tube, cooking at home, and still being computerless (incase you’re wondering, I’m at the library typing this). Feel free to comment with your thoughts on the matter.

Ciao,

S

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Wildflower

Spring has definitely sprung in London! After months of gloomy, rainy, snowy, depressing weather, the sun has consistently been shinning for over a week! To top things off, the temperature hit a perfect 65 degrees on sunday. To celebrate, my housemates and I had a picnic at the park near our house.

Sandra and I

Persian Soup - Ash-e-Reshteh

It was a great picnic with veggies and fruit, blankets and the sun, and best of all, a traditional persian soup called ash-e-reshteh.

I’m excited to be in this city when the weather gets warm. Everyone knows London is rainy and cold, but when the weather is sunny and warm, the city just lights up in an unexplainable way.

Natural History Museum

Last week I hit up another London museum! This time I decided to visit the Natural History Museum. They’ve got all sorts of exhibits, but my two favorites were the dinosaur and large mammal exhibits.

Dino Heads

T-Rex!

The Blue Whale

I must admit, I was totally speechless when I saw the size of the blue whale in this room. They even placed other animals like dolphins, orcas, elephants, and giraffes around the room so you can really see how large it is. It sort of reminded me of the whale in Pinocchio, Monstro. I mean, it could probably swallow you whole and you’d just like live in it’s stomach for a while, right??

Anyway, moving on…

Just passed through the "earth"

They also had a section all about the earth, focusing on both earthquakes and volcanoes (which coincidentally are both in the news right now).

What I loved about this section (and the museum as a whole) was how interactive it was. There were lots of kids around the day I went and they were having a blast exploring the museum, watching videos, pushing buttons, pulling levers, etc.

Before I left, I took one last look over my handy map/guide and noticed one more interesting artifact that I just HAD to see…The giant sequoia tree!

This tree was 1,300 years old when it was cut down and standing in front of this slice of the trunk, you one can only imagine how tall this tree once was.

Of course while i was admiring it, I was totally singing the song “Colors Of The Wind” from the movie Pocahontas in my head.

“How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.”

I know, she’s singing about a sycamore, this was a sequoia, but a large tree is a large tree and someone cut it down. Grandmother Willow would not be very happy.

There were more exhibits that I didn’t get to, and others that I just passed through (quickly and with one eye open) like the birds and insects section. Gotta leave something for the next trip, right?

Book & Music time…

The book I recently finished reading… “Handle With Care” by Jodi Picoult

The album i’m listening to on the tube… “(500) Days of Summer” Soundtrack

Ciao,

Sheila

PS – here’s one last look at spring!

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Filed under Book Reference, Friends, Movie Reference, Song Reference, Things to see